tv Boston Tea Party Debate CSPAN January 2, 2017 2:15pm-3:06pm EST
>> on december 16, 1773 thousands of massachusetts colonists gathered in boston to discuss a shipment of tea that had arrived in port from britain. the arrival of the tea escalated an already-existing debate over the new tea tax and sons of liberty led an effort to protest. after the debate colonists marched and dumped the tea into busten harbor. boston harbor. the debate reenactors and observers re-create the scene. this 45-minute event was hosted by old south meeting house and boston tea party ships and museum. and now, ladies and gentlemen, the 242nd anniversary celebration of the boston tea party. >> good evening. my name is george robert hughes. perhaps you have heard of me. i have been a shoe maker most of my life, a tradesman of the humble class.
now as an old man i am paraded around in my colonial clothing as the last survivor participant in the boston tea party. how strange it is to think of what i have seen here in boston, how i witnessed a nation born of protest. i was no student of history or politics myself. my entire education consisted of a modest understanding of reading and writing. i belonged to no associations, participated in no government, but in the years before our war of independence i became a staunch liberty boy. i was continually reflecting upon the unwarrantable sufferings inflicted upon the citizens of boston, by the tyranny of great britain and my mind was excited by an indistinguishable desire to aid in chastising the king.
i sat in this very hall after the bloody massacre in march of 1770 and again for the meetings of the body of the people in 1773 when we decided the fate of that tea. i came into this building a shoe maker. i left a true citizen. tond friends i ask you to indulge my memory and join me in a voyage back in time to 1773. you and i will participate in one of the most important events in american history as i did once before. we will debate the issues of the tea tax and the three ships of tea floating in the harbor.
and then, my friends, we will take a stroll to the harbor, perhaps. thank you. [ laughter ] i would like you to imagine what it was like here on december 16, 1773. you have all gathered at old south meeting house. it is the largest building in the town. and with over 5,000 fellow colonists it is the largest political meeting ever held in the town of boston. we have gathered here for over two weeks to try to decide what to do about the three ship loads of tea that lie anchored in boston harbor. if that tea is landed then we must pay a tax upon it.
our previous meetings have, however, determined that the tea must not be landed, for we will not pay that tax! the royal authorities, of course, affirm that the tax must be paid and the tea must be landed before midnight tonight. we are at a crisis. all of our efforts to return the tea to england without unloading it have failed. tonight we will make one last attempt to find a legal way to refuse this tea. now, tonight we meet as the body of the people which means even
the lower ranks, journey men and trades men like me may participate in the debate. even you all may lend your voice. in your programs you have a card. take it out. if that card is blue you will be arguing tonight as a loyalist, a friend of parliament. if, however, the card is yellow, you will be arguing tonight as a patriot, a friend to his country. if you wish to speak at the meeting you may do so by getting in line behind one of these
speaking tubes here, here and two in the balcony. please wait to be recognized by the meeting moderator. if you do not get a chance to speak you may still show and lend your support for your fellow loyalists or patriots but i ask you to do so as i and my fellow colonists once did. to show your support for the speaker, you should shout -- well done. now, let's warm it up. on my count one, two, three. now, i'm an old man so these don't work quite as well.
i think you can do better than that. remember, king george is listening. let's try it one more time, shall we. on my mark. one, two, three. much better. now, you can also show your disapproval and disdain for the speaker by shouting fly. let's try that. one, two, three. well done. so, now, just between you and me no one else -- i hear that the sons of liberty are in the hall tonight and that they may have a secret plan that they will put into action if it is needed. you're asked to follow the instructions of your meeting moderator. he will alert you when the meeting is adjourned and when our procession may begin.
so let us go back in time. there i am. yes, a younger man. oh, my. one marked by the qualities of economy, temperance, integrity and industry. and i see that our meeting moderator has arrived. so let us join the meeting. i turn over the pulpit to mr. samuel savage of westin. thank you. >> good day, sir. good day. mr. hancock. very well, sir.
>> thank the clerk for kind notes of our last session. now call the meeting to order. we have met here in the old south meeting house since november 29 to decide the fate of the cargo of tea. at those meetings this body resolved firstly that the duty imposed by parliament upon the tea landed in america is a tax on the americans without their consent. secondly, opposition to the plan of governing america is absolutely necessary to preserve even the shadow of liberty and is the duty which every free man in america owes to his country, himself and his posterity. >> here, here! >> thirdly, that the resolutions
by east india company to send out their teas to america subject to the payment of duties on its being landed here is a violent attack upon the liberties of america. and that fourthly, it is the duty of every american to oppose this attack. we have made every effort to peaceably prevent the landing of the tea and the paying of the duty. mr. francis roach, good evening, sir. >> good evening. >> you were asked earlier to go to customs and request a clearance for our vessel at dartmouth. to leave boston harbor without unloading the tea. ten men including samuel adams accompanied you as witnesses. sir, can you tell the assembly what has taken place? >> yes. the commissioner of customs, mr. richard harrison, he conferred with his superior whose opinion
it was that mr. harrison could not grant the dartmouth a path until the duties have been paid upon all articles on board. >> here, here. >> then, gentlemen, our insistence mr. roach applied to the naval officer in charge of providing safe passage. he, too, said his hands were tied until mr. roach produced a clearance. >> chair recognizes mr. paul revere. >> i move that mr. roach protest against the customs house and procure a pass of the governor that he on this day set sail with his vessel to london. >> no, i cannot. it is impractical, impossible. it is indeed out of the question. >> sir, you promised to take your ship dartmouth out of the harbor within 20 days of its arrival. tomorrow is the 20th day.
will you, sir, give the order for your ship to set sail this day? >> no, i cannot! >> order! we have order on the floor. all in favor of the motion to send mr. roach one more time to governor hutchinson to get a pass to take his ship out of the harbor please signify by saying aye. >> aye. >> opposed? motion carried. mr. roach, this body requests that you carry your protest to governor hutchinson and ask for a pass to take your vessel past the guns of the castle. >> i will make one final attempt to obtain a pass from our royal governor thomas hutchenson. i leave for milton immediately. >> i fear this may be our last hope to peacefully return the
tea to england. we will await captain roach's safe return to the meeting house. the chair recognizes mr. john hancock. sir? >> thank you. we have adopted the resolutions set forth in philadelphia regarding this oppressive act. every town in the province must appoint a committee of inspection so this tea is never landed. >> here here! >> well said, john. >> chair recognizes mr. clark. sir? >> my uncle wincelow and i encourage the merchants to stand firm and pursue their right to sell the tea. the tax is putry. the tax encourages commerce. is that worth the blood shed the so-called sons of liberty seek to call upon us? >> order. mr. clark has the floor. >> my cousin and i import good
english tea in a legal manner, unlike the smuggler of beaken hill who brings his dutch tea under cover of darkness like a thief in the night! >> order! >> please, let us maintain civility here. the chair recognizes john cobly. sir? >> i am an artist and not a politician but like so many others in this town i have been pulled into this matter. just a month ago my father and other consignees were very desire rouse to sea peace restored. it was out of their power to send the tea back to england but they offered to have it stored while they awaited further orders and they would allow the tea to be inspected to assure said committees that no tea would be sneaked off to be sold. but this body refused those concessions and so the consensus
of the consignees that as they were not involved in introducing the tea to the town they would not interfere with the people in the procedure of the same. >> the consignees! >> mr. may, you are out of order, sir. you will wait until i recognize you, sir. we will have an orderly house tonight. mr. may, you may now speak. sir? >> the consignees desire to lay the blame upon the people of boston entirely, the consignees are under the direct and immediate influence of the governor as his pawns. let us not forget -- >> nonsense. you speak nonsense, sir! >> order! >> two of the seven consignees are governor hutchinson's son and the other his friends and in-laws.
it is the governor himself who has devised this devilish plan. >> no, sir. no, sir. the consignees have no disposition to bring the teas into this town but they must be excused from being active instruments in its return to england. >> mr. savage! >> sir? >> all this talk passive instruments of the king's will. it was not so long ago that i and mr. clark stood with one voice against the king's taxes. just last week did he refuse outright an invitation from myself and other sons of liberty to discuss these matters in a civil fashion. by this blunt refusal show themselves to be as guilty as parliament itself.
>> order! >> order. chair recognizes -- >> this, sir you speak as if you and your ruffian are the gentlemen in this debate. >> here here! >> mr. clark and the other consignees are only trying to protect themselves and their families from the likes of you, sir. >> here, here. by refusing to show their face even in a public meeting such as this. mr. clark, was it not you, sir, who threatened my good friend on his wise refusal to meet with an unnamed crowd under your so-called liberty tree. s. >> here here! >> was it not you who not too long ago led a mob that ransacked the home of our lieutenant governor? why, i believe i should not call you sir but by your more fitting nickname known throughout the town, william the knave. >> order! order! >> shall i, sir, name a few of
the other names that have been called by me to you, sir? >> gentlemen take your seats now! we will have order in this house. gentlemen, let us remember the issue at hand. dr. warren, sir. >> gentlemen, the issue here tonight is much greater than this three pence tax. we must demand our right to representation. >> here here! >> because these duties are an infringement of our natural and constitutional right. we must defend our right to representation. on us depends the fortune of america. >> chair recognizes mr. may. >> what good would representation do us if we were
to send 13 representatives to that unjust body, one from each colony or two or three from each colony? we would still be outvoted. and then we would have had legitimized the right of parliament to tax us. representation in parliament is a straw man, i say we hold our right to tax ourselves and will not surrender that right to the corrupt placement and veto politicians of parliament. >> here here! >> right for the wrong reasons! >> chair recognizes doctor gardener. sir? >> i am distressed that some would look to dilute us. if there is a poison about it it is that which flows from the
pens and lips of those who incite the mob, honest merchants and their innocent customers. is a mere three pence per pound tax worth the destruction of trade in this town? >> no! >> well said, sir. >> chair recognizes mr. samuel adams. sir. >> governors have no right to seek and take what they please. instead of being content with the station assigned them honorable servant to society, instead become absolute masters. the private man has a right to say what wages he will pay in private affairs so as the community to determine what it will give of substance for administration of public affairs.
>> well said. >> chair recognizes mr. archable wilson. sir, you have the floor. >> mr. savage, i apprehend that the application of modsy of decency and civility to this assembly will interest no ill effect. as i suppose mr. adams would have us drink his healthy new england rum. for a good english tea. i fear any excesses of parliament far less than petty tearants of this town who hide behind noble titles king hancock and seek to destroy all of those who oppose them. i strive to serve the needs of my customers of all political persuasions. dissent, dissent is the life blood of the body of politics. when it interferes with my right
to carry on my business it defiles the very principles it purports to uphold. >> any others wish to speak? if so let them prepare forward in front of the aisles and the corners of the balcony. we have many who wish to speak thus far. surely we have a few more. chair recognizes the young gentleman to my left on the main floor. sir? >> my name is adam coleson. i think parliament's taxes are ruining the lives of those of us who live in the colonies. i think it is man's right to be free and to live with a just
ruler, not an unfair tyrant like king george! >> order! >> chair recognizes speaker to my right in the balcony. >> my name is jonathan seawald. can you not see that this issue has caused nothing but trouble. brother has turned against brother. father has turned against son. i argue with my brother in law john hancock all the time and to what end? let us pay this small tax and be done with it. >> chair recognizes speaker to my right on the floor. sir. >> i see ships coming in and out of the harbor and i see many towns merchants checking their stores. if only seven men are allowed to sell tea, what happens to the others who were denied their rights? >> chair recognizes the speaker to my left in the balcony? >> i'm a wig maker.
you loyalists think this issue is over three pence but it is not. we are fighting over representation in parliament, a right of all english men. >> here, here! >> here, here! >> chair recognizes speaker to my left on the main floor. >> my name is john cochran. i sell wine, not tea. what is stopping parliament from taxing any item it chooses? we need representation! >> chair recognizes speaker to my right on the floor. >> i go for the peaceable route. parliament removed all other taxes. why not go for the two pence and drink our tea and enjoy it? >> my name is nathaniel russell. i have friends that are patriots and loyalists. i'm caught in the middle of this tax issue.
but since the patriots have begun a campaign that includes threats and violence i can no longer remain neutral. >> careful what you say, young sir. >> chair recognizes speaker to my left. >> the loyalists claim sons of liberty are -- we must do what is right! >> chair recognizes speaker to my right in the ball cannibal connie. >> chair recognizes speaker to my right. >> my name is james brewer. i understand the loyalists are upset. if it takes violence then i support the patriots and whatever method or protest they choose. >> order! chair recognizes speaker to my right on the floor. >> under the tea tax company tea is cheaper than smuggled dutch or french tea.
i encourage my fellow colonists to purchase british made goods. >> chair recognizes speaker to my left on the floor. sir. >> we are all concerned about the violence in boston but as a patriot i believe we must continue our fight until our voices are heard! >> chair recognizes speaker to my left in the balcony. >> this chaos must stop. let us return to our orderly lives. >> chair recognizes speaker to my right in the balcony. >> what will happen if we continue to defy the king and parliament? they may send troops back into boston or worse, close the harbor. is this protest against the tea act really worth risking our freedom? >> chair recognizes gentlemen on the floor. sir? >> my name is isaac williams. we need to demand full rights as english citizens. without representation, gentlemen, parliament is committing a violent attack on the liberties of the colonists.
>> chair recognizes speaker to my left and on the floor. >> mr. chairman, members of the congregation. i am a merchant. these meetings have been tiresome and a waste of our time. why not leave well enough alone? >> order. chair recognizes speaker to my right in the balcony. >> i feel that blood shed is ahead of us. if we do not resolve this issue. we must not let these riots and violence rule our streets. >> chair recognizes to my left. >> i too am a civil merchant. these meetings have been tiresome and a waste of our time. why not leave well enough alone? >> chair recognizes speaker to my right on the floor. >> my name is benjamin tucker. by being stubborn and refusing to send tea back to england, the
tea merchants are creating even more problems in boston. >> here, here! >> chair recognizes speaker to my right. >> i am a baker. i believe we must follow the laws passed by parliament. laws protect us and keep the colonies strong. >> order! chair recognizes speaker to my right in the balcony. >> i am very angry that i am not allowed to sell tea. our businesses are losing money. king's laws are preventing us from providing for our families. >> here, here! >> chair recognizes speaker to my left. >> i am a simple merchant and i pride myself on providing quality goods for fair prices. since the tea act took effect i cannot sell tea. and now feel like a rascal in my trade that the teacher is punished. for what? >> here, here! >> you have the right to speak your mind. the chair recognizes speaker to my left on the floor. >> i am a weaver of this town. i know from my trade that too much strain can cause a woven
clock to unravel. we must not push too hard against kipg and parliament or the clock of our community may also unravel. >> chair recognizes speaker to my right on the balcony. >> my name is joseph nickels. the loyalists say we should talk about this peacefully and behave as englishmen. i say we have been talking to the king in parliament for almost ten years and they still haven't listened. >> well said! >> chair recognizes speaker to my left in the balcony. >> my name is samuel the loyalists say we should talk about this peacefully. and behave like englishmen. we have been talking to the king and parliament for almost ten years now. they haven't listened and they are not going to listen. the time for talk with them is over. the time for action is now. >> before you all have an opportunity to speak, chair recognizes speaker to my right on the floor. >> my name is peter herrington.
my family has been boycotting british made goods and will continue to do so until the king and parliament start listening to the colonists. >> chair recognizes the speaker to my left in the balcony. >> i say the king is infringing on our liberties by telling us what tea we can and can't buy. we are being treated like second class people. second class citizens. until england gives us the respect we deserve i will smuggle dutch tea into the colonies. >> be careful about your public statements young lady. speaker recognizes person to my right in the balcony. >> we are all english men who must obey the laws of king george. how long must we live in fear for our safety? this violence must stop and order must be restored. >> chair recognizes speaker to my right on the floor. >> i fought in french and indian
war and we did not need help of british soldiers to win it. why should we pay for troops? why? >> chair recognizes speaker to my left on the floor. gentlemen, this man has the floor. sir, you may speak. >> as a school master i understand that the loyalists are upset by the violence displayed by some of the patriots. i think that sometimes violence is the only way to make important changes. if it takes violence to make the king listen to us then i support the patriots and whatever method to protest they choose. >> be careful. chair recognizes speaker to my left. >> i am john coolly. these so-called patriots complain about a three pence tax yet they pay higher prices for smuggled dutch tea. i ask you, where is their sense?
>> chair recognizes speaker to my right on the balcony. >> i am a loyalist, the sons of liberty are causing violence and making boston a dangerous place to live. remember the boston massacre? you patriots hid stones inside snow balls and fired them at the soldiers. no wonder they fired on them all. >> here, here! >> chair recognizes speaker to my left in the balcony. please. >> i think king george has been very good to us and i worry about what will map to the colonies if the patriots continue to defy him. >> here, here! >> chair recognizes speaker to my left on the floor. >> as a doctor, i worry about the well being of the people if this violence escalates, but as a patriot, i believe we must continue with our fight until our voices are heard and the king takes us seriously. we must stand up against the king. >> here, here! >> chair recognizes speaker to my right on the balcony.
>> my name is benjamin simpson. i say it is unfair that king -- parliament say that we can only -- king and parliament say we can only buy british goods. i think i should be able to drink dutch tea if i like. >> chair recognizes speaker to my right on the floor. madame. >> i considered myself a proud english subject. i did not partake in the protests but watched silently, minding my own business. now i see that i serve the crown best by upholding her values. this means joining the protests. >> chair recognizes speaker to my left in the balcony. >> my name is joseph palmer. this only select seven merchants allowed to sell i am at
disadvantage. we will have our voices heard. >> chair recognizes speaker to my left on the floor. >> my name is edward baits. the tax may be on tea now but what is stopping parliament from placing a tax on wood, sugar or cloth. they may have taxes on the items before and resisted. we need to continue boycotting unfair laws. >> chair recognizes speaker to my right on the floor. >> you loyalists complain about violence and violent we patriots are. violence may be terrible, but tyranny is worse. i say if violence is the only way to get them to stand up and take notice then so be it. violence is it. >> order! chair recognizes speaker to my right in the balcony. >> my name is ellen and i'm a tavern keeper. i say we are not children who throw fits when we do not get
what we wish. we must settle our differences through negotiation. >> chair recognizes speaker to my left in the balcony. w. my name is robert davis. i am tired of being told what to do by the government that has ignored us for years and knows nothing of our lives. if i have to pay taxes i want to see where my money is going and know that it is helping my fellow towns people. >> hire here, here. >> chair recognizes speaker to my left on the floor. >> my name is john brodrick. i ask patriots what will happen to the colony if we continue to defy the king? if we anger the king it will be the least of our problems. >> order, order! >> chair recognizes speaker to my right on the floor. madame. >> my name is ms. keeper. enough with this liberty tea
nonsense. we are all english men and are subject to the king's laws. >> here, here! >> order. chair recognizes speaker to my left. >> my name is cooper. i teach my sons to respect their father's word. none of us are sons of liberty. we are the sons of our fathers and our king who protects us. >> chair recognizes speaker to my right. >> i am proud to say that my family drinks -- >> sir, the floor is open for discussion. >> my wife grows in our kitchen garden. we patriots must continue to protest. >> here, here! >> my name is john crane. i ask you loyalists when justice calls who shall respond? king and parliament have let her cry fall on deaf ears, but i will not.
i will act in her name. i ask you, my brothers, to join me and together we shall fight for justice. >> chair recognizes speaker to my left in the balcony. >> why should we support a government whose laws are hurting our economy? we must protect ourselves and protest until the tax is repealed. >> ladies and gentlemen, the night grows late. we have many more who wish to speak that we have time to accommodate. the question may soon be called. i would ask monitors to select one more person who may speak this evening before we try to move to some resolution on this issue. my left. >> my name is john murray. everyone here knows that three pence is a small price for king's protection during french and indian war. you patriots are acting like
spoiled children. >> order! order! the chair recognizes the speaker to my left in the balcony. >> why should we only buy english tea and why are only seven merchants chosen to sell the tea? the tea tax is an insult to the people of boston. >> order! chair recognizes speaker to my left in the balcony. >> i pride myself in keeping visitors to my inn warm, dry and well fed. prides himself in keeping subjects protected. why turn away from that protection? >> chair recognizes gentleman to my right on the floor. sir? >> i am a rope maker. why do we allow the king to trample our rights as english men? we should rid ourselves of the
king's harmful laws and create our own government. >> treason, sir. treason. order! order! order! mr. roach has not returned. in the event that governor hutchison refuses permission will this meeting abide by former resolution that the tea will not be landed? >> so moved. >> second? >> second. >> motion made and seconded. further discussion on the motion. all in favor of the motion please say aye. >> aye! >> opposed? motion is carried. we have a motion that the tea shall never be landed in the province and to ensure this every town must appoint a committee of inspection to prevent the tea from coming into this town. all those in favor? >> aye! >> opposed?
>> nay! >> the chair is in doubt. all those in favor? >> aye! >> opposed? >> nay! >> the ayes have it. it is unanimous resolution of this meeting that the tea shall not be landed. the chair recognizes mr. quincy. >> gentlemen, it is not the spirit within these walls that stand us, the exertions of this day will call forth certain events that will make a very different spirit necessary for our salvation. those who suppose that shouts will end the trials of the day entertain a childish fantasy. let us look to the end. let us weigh and consider before we move to those motions that will bring forth the most trying and terrific struggle that this country ever saw.
>> mr. roach. >> mr. roach has returned. mr. roach, we have been waiting for you, sir. you have returned from requesting a pass from governor hutchison to return your ship to england with the tea without unloading it. can you tell us what has happened, sir? >> yes, sir. his excellency said he is willing to grant anything consistent with the law and his duty to our king. >> mr. roach has the floor. >> passage until properly cleared by the customs house. but i'm not finished! if the vessel can obtain proper qualifications he would make no
distinction between my vessel and any other. >> order. >> francis roach must not suffer harm to his personal property. he has shown us today that he is a good man who has done everything in his power to satisfy us. >> here, here. thank you, doctor. >> captain roach, under the present circumstances will you order the dartmouth back to london with its cargo of tea? >> i apprehend that would be my ruin. >> if you will not order your vessel and its cargo back to london, will you attempt to land the tea? >> i would have no part of the tea but if properly called upon to do it i would attempt with compliance of the regulation of the custom commissioners for my own security. it's my for security. >> this meeting can do nothing
more to save the country. you are out of order, sir. you are out of order, sir. order! order! this meeting is not yet adjourned. keep your seats. mr. adams. >> mr. moderator. i move that mr. young be desired to address the meeting. >> mr. young, you will wait to be recognized by the chair. but you may be recognized by the chair. you may speak, sir. >> thank you, sir. mr. moderator, you are most kind as opposed to ors like mr. cox over there. this tea is really a slow poison
that has a corrosive effect on all who consume it. where have given it up since it became a political poison and have since gained -- >> sit down. this meeting isn't adjourned yet. >> you have the floor. thank you, sir. >> tea produces nothing of value. its use is insidious and pernicious and leads to various distempers. i trust that you, fellow country men, have decided to astew this tea, this boston distemper and will resist your urges towards this wicked weed and to all other needless imported commodities. we are here in boston a free and
generous people. and we have decided to gather here today to exercise our rights which is long standing right. will take us, i cannot rightly prognosticate, but now that my words that the hand is on the plow, there must be -- >> mr. young has the floor. order! >> you still may proceed. >> thank you. what pressures will the ministerial government in london take? >> will they resent this meeting? will they dare to resent it? who knows? what measure will they take against us?
will they punish us? how? by quartering troops on us, by anulling our charter? by laying on more duties, by refraining our trade? who knows? the question is whether our assembly and our deliberations were truly necessary. >> order! >> absolutely and positively are. we must be strong. we must be resolute in case anyone of you here be called to account for being -- >> order! >> and may god -- >> order! >> our right to freedom for this country! >> order! order!
the people have manifested exemplary patience having done everything in their power to preserve the tea without paying duty on it. or permitting it to be sold. we have endeavored at every way to send it back unharmed to its owners and were instructed by the consignees. therefore this meeting is dissolved! >> we must go. may the harbor be awash tonight with tea. you're watching american history tv on cspan 3 every weekend on holidays and congressional breaks. follow us on twitter, like us on facebook and find our programs and schedule on our website. cspan.org/history.
civil war where the lincoln administration used military commissions to put dissenting civilians on trial. the case has been sited frequently since september 11th, 2001, when several military commissioned cases came before the supreme court. next on american history tv, ohio state university history professor amare us the, michael lerks s benedict delivers a keynote speech commemorating ex parte milligan. this is part of a two-day conference hosted by illinois state university. i am going to use the lecturn for just a minute. thank you very much, stewart. it's been my pleasure to know our speaker tonight for more years than probably either of us would like to admit. i first met les when he was